Thursday, March 04, 2010

Cycling accidents at Fell and Masonic: the numbers


Given the ongoing hysteria about the allegedly dangerous intersection of Fell and Masonic, for some context let's look at the city's own numbers in the "City of San Francisco 2008 Bicycle Collision Report" of February, 2010 (the MTA website only has an executive summary; if you want the full report, contact the Bicycle Program at bicycle@sfmta.com ).

The report tells us that there were six "bicycle injury collisions" at Fell and Masonic in 2008---the last year covered by by the report---even though the city redesigned that intersection in September, 2008, installing the first "bicycle and pedestrian only" traffic signal in the city (pages 4, 5). That means there was one injury "collision" involving a cyclist every two months at Fell and Masonic, which is hardly a bloodbath.

According to the long-range numbers for the intersection, 2008 was essentially a normal year: between 2004 and 2008, there were 20 injury collisions involving cyclists at the intersection, an average of four injury accidents a year. In spite of the hysteria about Fell and Masonic whipped up by the SF Bicycle Coalition and BikeNopa, it's fair to conclude that in recent years there has been no big uptick in injury collisions involving cyclists at that intersection.

It will be interesting to see whether the redesigned intersection with the special stoplight has any effect on the number of accidents annually, but we'll have to wait for a future report to find that out.

There's the question of who's responsible for these accidents, motorists or cyclists? Table 13 on page 22 tells us that, where fault is assigned in an injury accident, 48.7% are the fault of motorists and 49.6% are the fault of cyclists.

And what specific violations do cyclists most often commit when they are assigned fault for an accident? Table 15 on page 24 tells us:

83% of the time cyclists were traveling at an "unsafe speed."

86% of the time cyclists were failing "to stop at red light limit line."

96% of the time cyclists were failing "to stop at stop sign limit line."

94% of the time cyclists are riding on the "wrong side of the roadway."

This shows that cyclists don't just annoy the rest of us when they do these things; they also put themselves in danger. Maybe the next report will analyze all the accidents at Fell and Masonic to see where the fault lies. I suspect that, like cycling injury accidents overall, the fault will lie in the 50-50 range, which means that no matter how well the city designs that or any other intersection, some motorists and some cyclists will drive/ride recklessly, and---this bulletin just in---there will be accidents.

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16 Comments:

At 1:48 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Here's some more numbers...

SFPD Sting at Fell/Masonic

The SFPD goes to that intersection, they find that cars are running the redlight, and they cite them. 8 in this sting, 14 last week. This is not running an "orange" - it is a case of a car being stopped at a red light, then proceeding left through the intersection against a red light.

Cars running redlights is unsafe. Period. Except in your world, where it's only "allegedly unsafe".

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

good report. Simply put, whenever cars and bikes are in the same mix on public streets and roads there are going to accidents..

Cyclists could avoid a lot of those accidents by slowing down, and obeying ALL traffic laws.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Cars run red lights all over the city, as do cyclists. The point---missed by you once again, Murph---is that, based on the city's own numbers, that intersection has had about the same number of accidents involving cyclists for years. Nevertheless, for several years we have had a hysterical PR campaign by the SF Bicycle Coalition to convince the city that this intersection has been the site of an ongoing massacre of cyclists by motorists. It simply isn't true, and the city's own numbers show that it isn't.

Nor do we have any evidence that motorists running red lights at the intersection have actually been responsible for any of the eight accidents in 200---or even the 20 accidents between 2004 and 2008.

Note too that the report tells us that misbehavior by cyclists causes half the injury accidents involving cyclists in the city. That doesn't surprise me, since I daily witness foolhardy behavior by cyclists all over the city.

You cyclists need to come off this crybaby, victim trip now that even the bike-fixated City of San Francisco can't provide any factual basis for that pretense.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By the way, the new traffic light at Fell and Masonic in the shape of a bike is the only one in the city and is therefore unfamiliar to drivers. For someone whose vision isn't 20/20---or who just needs a new prescription for her glasses---it's not easy to make out, because the bike-shape light isn't very big. Motorists are used to making that left turn off Fell onto Masonic on green, so when the little bike-shaped light turns green, they think it's time to go.

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the 'unsafe speed' category actually means.

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob - that bike light is accompanied by a red left pointing arrow - a traffic device that has been around forever. If you can't see a red arrow, and know what it means, you need to turn in your driver's license.

Rocky - why should cyclists at this intersection going through a green light be expected to slow down? Because they are supposed to predict that a car will ignore the red arrow?

Whatever any cyclist does - how can you guys defend goofballs who aren't capable of operating a car properly. It's beyond me.

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

After all the hysteria whipped up by the SFBC and its many enablers in city government, when you look at the numbers---which you refuse to acknowledge---you can see it's all bullshit. A grand total of six injury accidents involving cyclists in 2008, whereas the normal number of such accidents is four. You also ignore the fact that cyclists are at fault in 50% of their injury accidents, which means that we can assume that wicked motorists were only at fault in three of the six accidents in 2008. You went to the trouble to link the traffic sting; have you asked MTA for a copy of the report I'm writing about? They'll send you a nice PDF, Murph, wherein you will find that there's very little fire behind all the smoke the SFBC and the bike people have been blowing about this intersection.

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Simple question: Do you think it's ok that cars run the red arrow.

Simple question #2: If someone needs a new prescription on their glasses, should they be operating a car?

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Answering your questions in sequence---no and no. Why don't you address the substance of the post about the skimpy injury accident numbers in relation to all the hoopla about the alleged dangers at this intersection? Can't do it, can you?

 
At 4:14 PM, Anonymous whir said...

Hysteria or not, that intersection was obviously dangerous and a it's been vastly improved by the light in place - I say that as somebody who frequently used the left turn lane in a car and who also frequently went straight through it on a bike. If there weren't more accidents it's a testament to careful driving and cycling on the part of the parties involved, but I certainly had a lot of close calls there. I mean, it seems obvious that when you have one lane of traffic going straight (bikes) and then another lane to the right of it which is turning left (cars), and they both share a single green light, there are going to be problems. Everyone was confused about who had the right of way - I know I was, and I spent more time thinking about it than most people would. I don't really get what you're advocating here. Do you want the intersection to go back to the way it was before the light got put in?

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm just pointing out that the intersection has been the same for years, including the total number of injury accidents to cyclists. All the SFBC hype about the intersection was just that. We won't really know whether the new light has made much of a difference until we see the accident numbers for 2009. Note too that the city itself is telling us that cyclists are at fault in 50% of their own injury accidents, which doesn't square with all the pro-bike propaganda coming from BikeNopa, Streetsblog, and the SFBC.

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Andy said...

I don't think this is an auto vs bike issue. The panhandle is simply a very dangerous mixed use area with poor design for all of the various users.

As a 15 year resident of the North Panhandle I know that the panhandle bike path-- and especially the Masonic/Fell and Masonic/Oak intersections-- are really dangerous places to be. Cars are moving too fast around corners, Bikes are moving too fast on the bike path, and pedestrians are clueless to the danger of both the cylists and the motorists. Whether crossing the Masonic intersection on a bike, on foot, or pushing a baby stroller my experience tells me that it is just a matter of time until I get hit.

So what are some solutions? Marking the bike path to remind cyclist they need to respect pedestrians would be helpful. Reminding Cyclists a block out from Masonic that the will encounter a busy intersection would help. Putting in rumble strips and flashing yellow lights for both cylists and motorists would help. Repaving the Oak side of the Panhandle sidewalk would get Pedestrians and joggers to use that side of the panhandle instead of the bike path. While the new lights for the Masonic left turn and the new bike only light at Masonic is helpful, the design of the turn lane remains too abrupt and the lights too small for motorists not already familiar with the intersection to understand. The lights should be larger and placed over the lane instead of off to the side of the street.

While there are many things that would help improve the safety of the area, in the end the design of the Oak and Fell street corridor with its timed lights encourages highway like use and higher speeds even though the area is shared by cars parallel parking, cyclists coming off the Wiggle, runners trying to get to the park and all manners of people walking with kids,strollers, and dogs.

With all due respect to others making comments, this area is a dangerous place for all types of users and we should act together to improve it.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Whether crossing the Masonic intersection on a bike, on foot, or pushing a baby stroller my experience tells me that it is just a matter of time until I get hit."

That may just be your perception, formed by months---even years---of negative publicity about the intersection by the SFBC and the Bay Guardian. You haven't been "hit," and not many have, as the city's own numbers show. But I agreee that the new bike light is too small to be effective.

It now seems that not only do many city cyclists seem to think that the city is obligated to somehow make their rather risky transportation "mode" safe; but now the city is also supposed to make our streets so foolproof that cyclists will never have to even worry about their safety.

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are involved in car accidents, many of which result in significant injuries—even death—to drivers and passengers. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of thirty-four. It is estimated that each year, car accidents are responsible for over 40,000 deaths. Frighteningly, these statistics indicate that you are likely to be involved in at least one car accident in your lifetime. For more information visit: Accident Compensation Claim.

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So what?

 
At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Cycling Accidents said...

If a driver's hit you, chances are he's broken a law in doing so. (Well we did in both my accidents.) So we legally must give you license details. Straight after visiting the doctor (you keep in mind the TC incident!), write up a detailed statement and take it into your local police station. we were great and said they'd follow it up on both occasions. It's also lovely leverage down the track in case you need it.
Quickly receive a quote for repairs and put any claims in writing/email. Press for it to be finalised as hasty as feasible before the drivers feeling of guilt fades.

 

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